The parents of a Cub Scout from Michigan claimed that their son was horrified to learn that the police department in their community exclusively used cardboard cutouts of Black men as targets at the shooting range. The mother and father of one child acted after learning the information from the scouts, whose ages normally vary from 8 to 10½ during a field trip.
The Farmington Hills Cub Scouts and the police force of the Detroit suburb have a working partnership. According to Fox 2 News, the young children were taken to the gun range in the Farmington Hills Police Department’s basement during a recent visit to observe officers in action. Once there, the scouts learned that the overlay images for the officers’ target practice were of African-American men. The city denies this allegation.
The parents of one scout approached a lawyer to speak on their behalf and express their shock and contempt since they were too afraid to come out on their own.
The family’s attorney, Dionne Webster-Cox, thinks that what the officers told the children was inappropriate on several levels.
She said, “They took the little kids, this Cub Scout troop down to the basement where they do the target practice, and their targets are all Black men. I was just outraged by that.”
Although Webster-Cox and the parents do not intend to sue the city, she claims that there are racial prejudice issues, a lack of diversity, and positive community participation that should be noted in the FHPD’s policing.
She claims that FHPD is giving the wrong message to young children about being Black and residing in the region by demonstrating to them how exclusively Black guys are utilized as targets.
“Racial profiling” is a result of this kind of messaging, according to Webster-Cox, who questioned: “You have a Boy Scout group in there; what are you teaching them?”
Farmington Hills prides itself on being a diverse community, however the city’s leaders frequently do not represent the populace. The 2020 Census shows that 83,986 people, or 62.1 percent of the population, identify as white. 18.5 % of the population is black.
Farmington Hills is a fairly diverse town, according to Darlene King, the CEO of Life Journey and executive director of the Michigan Diversity Council. Socioeconomically, racially, and ethnically, it is diverse. However, it is different when you look at the city employees.
King has pushed the city to appoint a director of diversity, equity, and inclusion, establish a diversity council, and hire more staff members of color. According to Hometown Life, the city has already started making an attempt to increase the number of Black police officers on the force.
The attorney is urging the agency to improve despite this, saying, “Farmington Hills Police Department, you need to do better – why is there no diversity? I don’t see how any Black male walking in Farmington is safe.”
Cox’s rationale fits perfectly with King’s 2021 analysis of the FHPD to do better with their “cultural competency,” awareness, and “engagement.”
“Let’s look at community policing, which is a major current hot topic. Police are there to serve as public servants and to ensure public safety,” she stated. However, there is a disconnect when the police department is a fairly homogeneous group attempting to serve a very diverse population.
You have a lack of comprehension, cultural competency, and engagement since they are only interested in stopping people from breaking the law, according to the speaker.
The lawyer is convinced that there is a solution out there and has started planning how to increase awareness of racial bias in police training.
One of the first things she discovered was that a former FHPD officer who also happened to be Black reported racial bias against the agency in 2021.
She also discovered that other people shared her and the ex-cop’s suspicions about the bias in the force. The American Civil Liberties Union began looking into the department, much like Webster-Cox.
The Farmington Hills Police Department received a (Freedom of Information Act) request from the ACLU in July 2021 asking how much money had been spent on, I suppose, target practice, she added.
Cox learned from the request’s results that not all of the target practice materials were really used by the FHPD.
She said, “They ordered this target – they had lots of groups, Caucasians, it was very diverse,” she observed. “But the only ones you are actually using is the Black men?”
At the end of the day, she wanted to be clear that this behavior was unacceptable because it had an impact on everyone.
The FHPD stated in a press release that the allegations became known before the force received a “formal invitation, information, or notice relevant to this matter. Furthermore, there was no chance for the Department to look into it or react.
The statement also mentioned that the situation had been investigated and that the Cub Scout had made a mistake about the target practice.
It stated, in part, “Chief Jeff King ordered a thorough assessment of the claims made.”
The investigation discovered that during training, the officers of the Farmington Hills Police Department used two Black targets and 11 White targets, which “are consistent with the demographics of the City and the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards (MCOLES).”
The claims also raised worries for Chief King, who said, “I cannot overstress the seriousness of these accusations. I am requesting an expedited legal review of our training methodology and targets, to be finished before our fall training cycle, in light of the potential emotional impact this could have on our community and in keeping with our agency’s commitment and engagement with our citizens. The men and women of the Farmington Hills Police Department serve this City every day with professionalism, honesty, and dedication. Every member works tirelessly to uphold our mission to serve and protect the public, work in partnership with our citizens, and maintain our excellent community relationships, he said. As Chief, I believe it is my responsibility to make sure that these efforts are never minimized, distorted, or misconstrued because doing so simply erodes our relationship with the community